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Guide To Showing:What To Expect At An English Riding Show Guide To Showing:What To Expect At An English Riding Show
Saddle up, riders. We are entering the world of English horseback riding shows. These events are a great way to showcase skills learned in the sport.... Guide To Showing:What To Expect At An English Riding Show

Saddle up, riders. We are entering the world of English horseback riding shows. These events are a great way to showcase skills learned in the sport. Whether you’re a beginner rider eager to test your skills in the arena, or a seasoned equestrian venturing into a new discipline, the experience of showing is rewarding. 

When showing, riders need to have their horse properly groomed, be dressed in pristine attire, and be familiar with the pattern to follow depending on the event. 

From the thrill of competition to the camaraderie among fellow riders, here’s a comprehensive guide on what to expect for your inaugural English horseback riding show and how to prepare for the ride of a lifetime.

Show Preparation

Preparation is essential to ensure a smooth and successful experience at your first English riding show. Here’s what you can do to get ready:

Put In The Practice 

Dedicate ample time to practice your riding skills in the weeks leading up to the show. Focus on proper seat with shoulders back, sitting tall with a light forward tilt from the hips. Heels should be down, eyes always forward and hands soft on the reigns. 

Make sure you know the maneuvers specific to the English riding discipline, whether it be lead line or mini stirrup divisions, dressage, show jumping, or equitation.

Not only does consistent practice help the rider learn and master skills, but it also allows them to get a good feel of the horse to better increase riding skill and build a bond that will help with comfort and trust when showing. 

Know the Rules

Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of the competition, including attire requirements, class specifications, and scoring criteria. Understanding the rules will help you navigate the show environment with confidence and avoid any unnecessary surprises on show day.

Prepare Your Horse

Before the show, make sure your pony or horse is well-groomed. This may include braiding the mane or clipping and/or shaving if necessary. The horse’s tail and mane may need a trim, but make sure the tail isn’t too short either. Don’t forget to properly take care of hooves.

Practice riding in the show ring environment is also a great idea to get the horse used to the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of a busy competition day.

Expect to arrive early to tack up, check-in, and warm up at a horse show.

Image by romavor from Pixabay

Gather Essential Gear

Showing requires specific riding attire and equipment.

Show Gear:

Helmet: A well-fitted and ASTM/SEI-approved riding helmet is mandatory for safety reasons in most English riding competitions. 

Show Coat: A traditional show coat, often in dark colors such as navy blue, black, or gray, is standard attire for English riding competitions. The coat should be tailored to fit well. 

Show Shirt: A long-sleeved show shirt or blouse in a light color, such as white or pastel shades, is to be worn under the show coat.

Breeches or Jodhpurs: Breeches or jodhpurs are worn for English riding competitions. They are typically beige, tan, or white.

Riding Boots: Tall, black leather riding boots are standard for English riding competitions. The boots should be clean and polished. Children may just need paddock boots. 

Riding Gloves: Riding gloves provide grip and protection for your hands while riding. Gloves may be optional for children.

Show Tie or Stock Tie: Depending on the specific requirements of your discipline, you may need to wear a show tie or stock tie around your neck. These are typically white and are fastened neatly under the show coat collar. Some shows may require a collar pin.

Hairnet or Hair Accessories: Hair should be neatly groomed and secured under a hairnet or with hair accessories such as a hair bow or hair clip. Girls commonly wear show bows to add some flair and style. Common hairstyles include one or two braids.

Clean Tack

It’s important that everything tack clean, functional, and in compliance with show regulations. Tack includes the saddle, breastplate, bridle, stirrups, girth, halter, and lead rope if in younger show divisions. 

Show Day: What to Expect

Show day riding competitions are the way riders and horse showcase their skills in the arena. Here’s what you can expect on your first English horseback riding show day:

Check-In, Tack, & Warm-Up: Arrive at the show grounds early to check in and familiarize yourself with the venue layout. Tack your horse and get to the area to warm up which allows your horse to stretch their legs and acclimate to the new surroundings before your classes begin.

Horse shows are a great way to showcase skills. Here's what to expect when showing.

Image by Rene Staempfli from Pixabay

Class Schedule and Ring Assignments: Review the show schedule and confirm the timing and location of your classes. Pay attention to any last-minute updates or announcements regarding ring assignments and class orders.

Ring Etiquette: Respectful and courteous behavior in the show ring is a must. Follow the instructions of the ring steward or judge, adhere to the designated course or pattern, and maintain proper spacing and passing etiquette when sharing the arena with other riders.

Focus and Confidence: Channel your nerves into focused determination as you enter the show ring. It’s normal to be nervous at your first show, but trust in your training, listen to your horse, and ride with confidence and poise. 

Show Awards

Immediately after a specific class is done showing, judges will award ribbons. Congratulations on finishing your first horse competition! Whether you walked away with a blue ribbon or encountered a few bumps along the way, cherish the memories made, lessons learned, and milestones achieved on your journey as a rider.

Lauren Keating

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